Poor start leads to Komets’ 2-1 loss
TOLEDO, Ohio : Slow starts. They are something the Komets need to fix.
A wretched first period led to their 2-1 loss to Toledo that dropped them to 5-8-0 this season, including an 0-3-0 record against their bitter division-leading rivals from the east.
Goaltender Lukas Hafner, a native of Toledo, was in net for the Komets after he missed Friday’s 4-1 loss at Cincinnati, Ohio, because of a death in the family. Zach Fucale manned the net in that game and stopped 24 of 28 shots.
Tonight, Hafner turned away 24 of 26 shots.
Teammate Justin Hodgman failed to tally a point for only the second time this season as the Komets lost for the third time in four games.
Toledo was 0 for 6 on power plays. Fort Wayne was 0 for 2.
Also back for the Komets was forward Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL’s MVP and leading scorer last season, who had been out with an illness Friday. Szydlowski was also absent from the Komets first two meetings of the season with the Walleye : both losses : because he began the season in Norway.
Toledo (11-1-1) came into tonight atop the Western Conference and on a 9-0-1 run, and that included a 3-0-0 record at the Huntington Center, where it was Mike Eruzione bobblehead night. The hero of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team had played for the Toledo Goaldiggers in the International Hockey League from 1977 to 1979.
It was a dismal opening period for the Komets, in which they were outscored 2-0 and outshot 15-4.
Toledo’s former NHL player, T.J. Hensick, who had two goals and seven points in the first two meetings between the teams, opened the scoring 1:51 into the first period by accepting Greg Wolfe’s pass from the left boards and snapping a shot from the right circle past Hafner.
Wolfe made it a two-goal lead by skating down the left flank and firing a shot that slipped underneath Hafner. As Fort Wayne captain Jamie Schaafsma tried to keep the puck from skirting into the net, Wolfe poked it in at 4:48, in the midst of the Walleye totaling 10 of the game’s first 12 shots.
The Komets had a chance to get back into things despite Toledo having a power play early in the second period; Hodgman got a breakaway and was foiled by goalie Pat Nagle, who had stopped Hodgman on a penalty shot in the waning minutes of the teams’ previous meeting, a 3-2 Walleye victory here Oct. 27.
A misstep by Nagle helped the Komets to a goal at 14:31; he was caught playing the puck behind the net, allowing Jake Kamrass to send the pass out front for Garrett Ladd to score into an open net.
Toledo enjoyed the first five power plays of the game : Sean Fernandez was the referee : and Fort Wayne’s Jason Binkley missed the net at the end of a 2-on-1 rush with his team skating short-handed late in the second period.
Nagle, a former Komets goalie, stopped 19 of 20 shots.